The rise and proliferation of Arthurian prose romances in France in the thirteenth century is attested most notably by the enormous corpus of Old French Arthurian prose romances known as the Vulgate Cycle. According to most scholars, the Vulgate Cycle in its original form comprised three prose romances: the Roman de Lancelot en prose, the Roman de la Queste del Saint Graal and the Roman de la Mort le Roi Artu. At a later stage, two other prose romances conceived as preliminary works to the original trilogy were added to the cycle: the Estoire del Saint Graal and the Vulgate Merlin. This group of Old French Arthurian romances has survived in nearly one hundred manuscripts and was translated into almost all major Western European languages. Of the three extant Middle Dutch translations of the Lancelot en prose, Orlanda Lie has chosen the (only) verse translation (preserved on two leaves of parchment, the so-called Rotterdam Fragments) as the starting point for a comparison between the Middle Dutch, the Middle High German and the Old French Lancelot en prose versions. In this comparative analysis only a small portion of the extensive Lancelot en prose (namely, those sections that are parallel to the content of the Rotterdam Fragments) will be involved. The relation of the consulted French manuscripts to the Dutch and German Lancelot translations are ascertained in the light of insights gained from an investigation into the manuscript tradition of the Lancelot en prose sections which qualify for a comparison with the two Middle Dutch fragments. Although the main emphasis of this study falls on the manuscript tradition of the Lancelot en prose, a brief discussion of some of the important stylistic and structural characteristics of the Lancelot trilogy as a whole is presented, especially since it is more than likely that the scope and complexity of the work has also influenced (directly of indirectly) its manuscript tradition. A diplomatic and a critical edition of the Rotterdam Fragments as well as a translation in modern English are included in this volume.
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